2015 Travel Roundup

2015 was the year I fell in love with travel. I said yes to more adventures, explored new places and cultures, revisited some familiar sights, and met the most amazing travelers along the way.

I included below the accommodations where we stayed that, I believe, are budget friendly. My usual budget for a night’s stay (local or international) is around ₱400-₱700. I don’t mind indulging myself once in a while, but for now, I enjoy budget travel.

= Philippine peso

January: Cebu and Bantayan Island, Philippines

Me and my travel buddy Ellen flew to Cebu for a New Year’s trip. Her friends from Cebu joined and showed us around. Thanks Poy, Franco and Liezel!

Cebu Taoist Temple
Cebu Taoist Temple

We were supposed to go to Bohol for a side trip, but after realizing that riding on the ferry is pricey, we agreed that Bantayan Island was more feasible.

When we arrived, we had no other companions except the dogs. We had drinks under the stars while listening to Ed Sheeran. What more could we ask for?

We explored Bantayan the next day, then headed back to Cebu.

Infinity Pool at Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort
Infinity Pool at Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort
Ogtong Cave, Bantayan Island
Ogtong Cave, Bantayan Island. Yes, you can swim in there!

Accommodation:
Cebu – Sampaguita Suites (Standard Double)
Bantayan Island – Beach Placid Resort (Double Room, Non-Beachfront)

January: Ilocos, Philippines

My family and I went to Ilocos during the Papal visit holiday. Every place was filled with tourists, but still breathtaking.

Accommodation: Northview Hotel (Family Room)

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Ilocos Norte
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Ilocos Norte
Paoay Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte
Paoay Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte. “Himala” means miracle in Tagalog.

April: Boracay, Philippines

Me and my travel buddy went to Boracay for Holy Week. Considering it was peak season, I still scored us each a ₱780 (around US$16.6) one way ticket to Caticlan, then a ₱820 return trip to Manila via Kalibo airport. Still a great deal, right?

Accommodation: MNL Beach Hostel Boracay (1 Bed in 8-Bed Mixed Dorm)

Parasailing in Boracay
The best people in life are free! 🌟
Boracay PubCrawl
Tried Boracay PubCrawl, and had a great time! Got the photo from their Facebook page.

May: Liwliwa, Zambales, Philippines

This was a spontaneous trip with my travel buddy. She texted me if I wanted to stay overnight in Liwliwa, Zambales. And I automatically agreed. Liwliwa is more of a surfers haven, but we just needed to get away from the city.

Accommodation: The Circle Hostel (Hammock)

Waited for the sunrise 🌄 #zambales #liwliwa #travel #travelph

A photo posted by Redel Bautista (@redelbautista) on

Morning light at Liwliwa, Zambales
Morning light at Liwliwa, Zambales

June: Davao, Philippines

Me and my travel buddy went nature tripping and beach hopping in Davao and Samal Island. We were able to go to Isla Reta, Kaputian, and Dahican beaches.

Also, I must say, I’ve met the nicest and most welcoming people in Davao! Thanks to Warj for helping us with our itinerary, a Davao local we met in 2014 on a trip to Sagada.

Accommodation: Tune Hotel / Red Planet Davao (Twin Room)

Dinosaur Island, Davao Oriental
Breathtaking view of Dinosaur Island in Davao Oriental
Dahican Beach, Mati, Davao Oriental
Dahican Beach, Mati, Davao Oriental
Indulging my wanderlust in Samal Island
Indulging my wanderlust in Samal Island

September: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I explored Kuala Lumpur with my great friends Kym and Dean. Kym’s best friend, Marfel, joined us as well. Between the hilarious airport mishaps, food hunting, extreme rides, endless laughter, and inside jokes, there was never a dull moment!

Travel Tip: if you’re going to Sunway Lagoon, book your tickets online to get around ₱500 off per person.

Accommodation: D’ Garden Boutique Hotel (Family Triple Room)

Colorful staircase of Sunway Lagoon
This place has everything: parks, extreme rides, pools and slides!
Batu Caves
Batu Caves
Kuala Lumpur City View
Stunning view of Kuala Lumpur while enjoying the sumptuous lunch at Atmosphere 360.
Petronas Twin Towers
What is a trip to Kuala Lumpur without visiting the iconic Petronas Twin Towers?

September: Bali, Indonesia

Me and my travel buddy agreed that we would love to go to Bali in the future. One night, while looking for flights, I stumbled upon a ₱3730 round trip ticket to Bali. I freaked out, of course, then booked two tickets in a heartbeat!

The trip was magical. Everything was so beautiful. I can’t wait to go back this 2016!

Accommodation: Coco Beach Hostel (Twin Room)

Beautiful rice fields in Bali
Beautiful rice fields in Bali
Mount Batur in Kintamani
Enjoyed this view of Mount Batur while having brunch
Nungnung Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia
Nungnung Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia
Majestic sunset at Tanah Lot temple
Majestic sunset at Tanah Lot temple

October: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Me and my travel buddy flew to Kota Kinabalu during the course of Typhoon Lando in the Philippines. Since Kota Kinabalu is just a 2-hour flight from Manila, I believe it was the reason why the weather was all gloomy. I think this is one downside of booking tickets early, though it’s cheaper, you have no idea of the weather condition months ahead. You could rebook your flights, of course, but there are corresponding charges.

What made our trip still special was our stay in SKYPOD. I greatly appreciate the warm hospitality we received. Definitely, the best hostel I’ve stayed in 2015! We also met a Korean traveler in the hostel who is currently living in the Philippines. He was kind enough to show us around because he arrived a day ahead of us.

Accommodation: SKYPOD Hostel (Single Pod – Mixed Dorm)

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
Kota Kinabalu City Mosque. Would have been more beautiful if the sun was out.
Sapi Island, Kota Kinabalu
Sapi Island, Kota Kinabalu

November: Boracay, Philippines

My first solo trip was to Boracay. I chose a local destination so I could at least get the hang of solo traveling. I booked my flight on November 2014 (a year ahead!), just so I could prepare. I was terrified of the idea, but still booked it anyway.

Then came November 2015. I saw Boracay in a new light. I met a lot of travelers, and even shared activities (ATV and zipline) with one of them. There is something empowering about traveling solo. I’m glad I did it, and I’d do it again.

Accommodation: YB Hostel (1 Bed in 6-Bed Male Dormitory)

Boracay Happy Planet Zipline and Cable Car
Boracay Happy Planet Zipline and Cable Car. Adrenaline rush at its finest!
Boracay Sunset 2015
Chasing the sunset

December: El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Me and my travel buddy were excited because El Nido was both part of our bucket list, and our round trip airfare to Puerto Princesa was only ₱705 each! The round trip van transfers (PPS-El Nido-PPS) was more pricey by a few bucks!

A few days before our flight, Typhoon Nona entered the Philippine area of responsibility. Great timing, huh? Still, it was all sunny when we got to Palawan. We were hopeful that the good weather would persist until a few hours later, there was a sudden downpour. The Coast Guard cancelled all boat tours, so we were left with no choice but to avail inland tours. We weren’t disappointed as our awesome guide Kuya Ben brought us to different breathtaking views! You can contact him at +639187091739 for El Nido inland tours.

The next day, the sea was still angry but the tours proceeded. We joined “Tour A” which included beaches and lagoons. It was not a smooth sail, and we all joked about how we were like castaways in a reality show. We had picnic over a campfire on one of the islands because it was freezing cold (wind and rain combo)! This is definitely an interesting experience that I would never forget.

Philippine weather during the last quarter of the year is absolutely unpredictable so I’m looking forward to return to El Nido during the summer.

Accommodation: Our Melting Pot Hostel (1 Bed in 7-Bed Mixed Dorm Aircon)

Off the Beaten Path in Nacpan Beach
Off the beaten path near Nacpan Beach
Nagkalit-kalit Falls, El Nido, Palawan
Nagkalit-kalit Falls, El Nido, Palawan. We had the falls to ourselves! Worth the trek!

This has been my 2015 in travels. There might have been unexpected circumstances at times, but what matters is that I learned new things, and made new friends.

I still have a long list of places I want to go, but it feels like I’m on cloud nine to tick off some more without breaking the bank. I am looking forward to what 2016 holds! More travels for all of us!

What were your favorite moments in 2015?